Would You Like Popcorn With That? – Red 2

John Malkovich Steals the Show in “Red 2”

Red 2 Review Scallywag Design“Red 2” was directed by, Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest & Fun With Dick and Jane). It stars, Bruce Willis (Frank Moses), John Malkovich (Marvin Boggs), Mary-Louise Parker (Sarah Ross), Helen Mirren (Victoria), Anthony Hopkins (Edward Bailey), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Katja) and Byung-Hun Lee (Han Cho Bai). It has a runtime of 1 Hour and 56 minutes and is rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and or some language and drug material.

“Red 2” is the second film adaptation of the sleeper hit based on a DC comic. The premise for this movie is that the team of retired operatives is reunited through a series of dangerous plans set in motion by internet “chatter” about a secret nuclear weapon. This causes all branches of international governments to send their best assassins out to collect the bounty on the heads of, Marvin (Malkovich) and, Frank (Willis). Their only chance of survival is to find the weapon and clear their names. Sounds easy enough, right?

All heck breaks loose when, Frank’s small-town Kansas girlfriend, Sarah (Parker) meets an old flame of, Frank’s. The friction that is caused between, Sarah and Katja (Zeta-Jones) leads to some of the most creative and over the top cat fighting that you have ever seen. There is one great scene where a pursuit breaks out and, Frank and, Katja are forced to go together while, Marvin and Sarah are left as team b. As opposed to gunning down the bad guy, the ladies become more driven to show the other up. The tension between the girls leads to some excellent comedic banter and an incredibly awkward interrogation scene.

John Malkovich steals the show in this movie. His character, Marvin is a paranoid ex-military assassin that has undergone years of chemical research and testing with LSD dosing. He was my favorite character in the first movie, but he was definitely bumped to center stage in this one. Throughout the course of the movie you will see, Malkovich fake his own funeral, almost detonate a nuclear weapon, eat a 30-year-old Moon Pie and constantly give, Frank dating advice. Every time that his character speaks, it is worth paying attention. His dialog, delivery and mannerisms are hilarious. Even when it is not his turn to speak on screen, check out the faces he is making. I firmly believe that he is certifiably crazy at times.

Aside from being a great comedy, “Red 2” is also a terrific action movie. One of the hitmen that is assigned to kill, Marvin and, Frank is, Han (Lee). He is a lightning fast assassin that is just as skilled with his hands and feet as he is with his truck-mounted Gatling gun. All of the characters in this movie have some form of history with each other. It is implied that, Han and, Frank had worked together in the past and, Han was wronged in some way. Frank hijacks, Han’s personal jet at one point and this really makes him angry beyond belief. The fight scenes that have, Han in them are very fun to watch. It was almost like the first time you saw, Jet Li in “Lethal Weapon 4” and were just mesmerized by his unparalleled skills. I am not sure how much of it was just camera tricks, but that guy is fast and nothing is cooler to see in an action movie than a good ol’ martial arts fight. Am I right?

I really feel that this is a movie that can be enjoyed by a lot of people. If you are into films based on comic books, here is a good one to see. Maybe you like a good action film. Perhaps the chemistry of a classic “buddy cop” movie does it for you. You could even just be that person that will watch anything with, Bruce Willis in it, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. “Red 2” is four hours worth of thrills packed into two. The only real downside to the movie was that there was almost too much going on. This made it a little hard to keep up at times. I would be processing one scene while another one was already under way. At the same time, that is the essence of a comic book after all.

I actually like this series of movies quite a bit. This one is just as good, if not better than the original. A solid 4 out of 5 popped kernels.

Popcorn Rating 4 out of 5

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Would You Like Popcorn With That? – Turbo

“Turbo” is a shell of a good movie. – Yeah, I actually just said that.”

images“Turbo” is the first feature-length film directed by, David Soren. It stars the voice talents of, Ryan Reynolds (Turbo), Paul Giamatti (Chet), Michael Peña (Tito) and a whole slew of SNL regulars. It has a runtime of 1 Hour and 36 minutes and is rated PG for some mild action and thematic elements.

“Turbo” is the ironic tale of a garden snail that aspires to be faster. Every one of his friends and family are content doing their daily routines of harvesting tomatoes and avoiding immutable threats like crows and tormenting children. Determined that he is meant for greater things, Turbo wanders away from his mapped-out life and embarks on a thrilling adventure that will change him and the lives of the characters that he encounters.

When I first saw the trailer for “Turbo”, my initial thought was, “Great. Looks like a rip off of ‘Cars’ and I have already seen that movie twice”. This early assessment was pretty far from the actuality that made “Turbo” such a good movie. “Cars” was about the humbling of a high-profile hot shot that learns the value of working for what you earn. “Turbo” is the story of coming from a meek status and dreaming for greater things that are achieved by helping one another. Another thing that looked a little bleak for me was the cheesy use of stereotypes in the depiction of the film’s characters. They actual portrayed them in such a way that it carried the story by adding importance to the things that society expects from each person.

As I mentioned, most of the human roles in this movie are very cliché. There are two Mexican brothers that run a taco stand, which rests in a dilapidated strip mall. Tito (Peña) sees the potential of flaunting, Turbo’s incredible skill by turning the taco stand into a roadside attraction where tourists can see the world’s fastest snail. The two of them later concoct a plan that will get them the recognition that they long for by entering the Indy 500. The strip mall patrons all pitch in money to get them entered and become, Turbo’s pit crew by offering up their unique skill set. Not quite as unique as, Liam Neeson in “Taken”, but just as useful. The hobby shop owner builds, Turbo’s racing shell from model car parts. The nail salon lady does all of his detail work by delivering the pinstripes and a paint job that will make the snail look the part of a racecar. In many ways, the underdog of the movie is everyone and it is nice to see them all shine in their areas of expertise. It makes you think twice when shrugging off someone’s mundane abilities.

This movie, like many other good animated films, was an excellent 3D experience. There are so many sequences that transpire in this movie that would not be possible on conventional film. When, Turbo races in the Indy 500, he weaves in and out of car tires. He slides underneath the chassis of the other racecars and it looks really cool on the screen. There are countless little details that give life to “Turbo”. For instance, there is a scene where a lot of other snails are parachuting and they are all made from candy wrappers. Something that you only see for a few seconds and it probably took several hours to achieve. There is pitting and rust spots on the top of the time trial board in the race scene that looked real enough to believe that it was. There is an entire sequence where, Turbo is trying to relocate rotten tomatoes. The realism in their movement is uncanny as they warp, squish and burst. You will connect with the world in a whole new way when you view it from the eyes of a snail.

I haven’t seen racing snail since “The Neverending Story”, and as far as I was concerned I would have been fine with that. Then “Turbo” came along and thoroughly exceeded my expectations. This movie is a great excuse to take the afternoon off and pick up your little one from day care. Not only will you build a great relationship with them, but you will have fun doing it. They will probably remember it for a long time as they say to their friends, “Guess what my dad/mom and I did yesterday.” This summer is on a roll for good movies and “Turbo” is a great addition to the lineup.

“Turbo” gets a 4 out of 5 popped kernels from this lad.

Popcorn Rating 4 out of 5

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CTS Promotions: Bringing Toy Shows to Central Ohio

photo 1One day in, June I had the opportunity to go to a toy show that was being held at Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park in Columbus. So I told my kids that to dress up, because we were going to geek out and head to the toy show. After piling everyone into the car (including a loving wife that is very supportive of all my ridiculous endeavors) we had to go to IHOP, because that’s what families do. My daughter got so many oohs and ahs that it went to her head a little. After all, it is my firm belief you should be able to dress like a princess/ninja turtle if you want to. See…..the Klingon gets it.

photo 5When we got into the hall it was like a sensory overload. Years of youth gone by had suddenly rushed back into my body. Every step I took was more and more exciting as I would pick up toy after toy only to be drawn down the line of vendors. It was about then that I realized, “Crap……I didn’t get enough money out of the bank!”. Luckily, most of the booths accepted PayPal and credit cards. I saw He-Man, Ghostbusters, Batman, Star Wars, G.I. Joe and even a slew of antique toys that my grandparents may have played with. There were even a lot of vendors with modern toys. My daughter particularly enjoyed the Minecraft and Monster High paraphernalia. Check out how cool this box of random He-Man figures looks.

photo 3After a blissful, nostalgia-ridden stroll through the show, I sought out the man in charge. James Ford runs CTS Promotions and he has been hosting these events for years. I was blown away when I heard that this particular show was the small show and that there is one held at Vet’s Memorial that is actually the largest in Ohio! Hence, the new savings account that I have started. Now I can finally get that Ghostbusters firehouse play set. At any rate, I got a chance to sit down and ask, James a few questions.

——My interview with, James Ford—–

photo 4Q: How did you start collecting?

A: I already had a huge Star Wars collection that I had been accumulating since high school. A friend of mine ran a comic shop and would always ask me, “Hey, why don’t you put on a toy show?”. So I did. The first show was held at the Aladdin Shrine Temple, and it was more profitable than I had anticipated. This led to me buying and selling more and more. My uncle was the stage manager at Vet’s Memorial about 11 years ago. This allowed the show to expand into what it is today.

Q: What is your most prized piece in your collection?Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 11.39.57 AM

A: (Without any hesitation) My rocket-firing, Boba Fett. I purchased it from a Kenner employee for about $6,000 “American dollars”.

Q: Aside from the scheduled shows for this year, do you have anything else in the works?

A: Actually, I do. I am working hard to bring an all-Transformers show to the Columbus area in 2014. It will be called “Opticon”. Hopefully I can get it all organized in time.

Q: Do you have a day job, or just play with toys all day?

A: I am also a lighting and sound technician. A real “behind the scenes” guy for events as well as a DJ.

Q: I noticed that the event room for this toy show was packed with wall to wall vendors and a slew of buyers. How do you get the word out to all of these people to put on such a phenomenon?

A: Social media has been a great outlet for raising awareness. A lot of the people that bought and sold on ebay have realized that going to these shows eliminates a lot of hassle. They can actually hold the toys from their childhood as opposed to just looking at a picture on the screen and hope that the toy doesn’t arrive broken or in worse shape than it was described in the listing. We also encourage people to bring their kids. That is why 12 and under are always free. This way you can connect with them when you reminisce about the cool toys that mommy and daddy used to play with when you were their age.

—–End of interview—–

If you missed this show, don’t worry. There is a huge show scheduled for, September 15th, 2013. If you miss that one, Check the schedule and find one that you can make it out to enjoy. Trust me, this is a wonderful event that you should bring your entire family to. Especially the kids, and encourage them to dress up as their favorite character for the costume contest.

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Laser Engraved Wood Necklaces and Such

Custom Laser Engraved Video Game Controller Necklace

In an attempt to expand my creative scope, I am starting to dabble in laser engraved wood trinkets. Laser engraving and cutting is so precise that it rarely ever needs any finishing steps. While these items are made from a thin, solid piece of wood, I have also made a few things out of aluminum, acrylic, steel, leather and even card stocks.

The first step to laser engraving is to have an idea in mind of what you wish to create. I usually sketch something down on the back of a discarded piece of paper because my ideas never seem to come to me when I am sitting at a desk or anywhere near conventional paper products. After I have the idea mapped out, I will go into my design software and make a clean, vector version of how I want the finished product to look. This lets me get precision measurements and tweak anything that may need adjustments. For instance, I knew that I wanted these necklaces to have a little ring that would hang the pendants from the ball chain instead of them being directly threaded onto one another. So I had to measure the hole diameter and the spacing in order to allow the two to work with one another.

Custom Laser Engraved Ohio Love Controller Necklace

After you have a design (or several designs in most cases) there’s nothing to it but to do it. Lay your raw material onto the bed of the laser, focus your beam, select the proper speed and power needed to create the piece and let ‘er rip.

Here are two examples of recent designs that I have done. I am an avid video game lover since their public inception near the time of my birth. This is obviously reflected with the Gamer’s Necklace. It is just the first in a series of game console controllers that I am going to create. The other necklace is actually a set of two necklaces that mimic the “best friends” necklaces with their interlocking patterns that fit together when brought together.

As mentioned in the photos, I can make these in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The imagination is the limit, and if yours is rusty, I would be glad to come up with something for you. Be sure to follow Scallywag Design on Facebook so you can keep up with new projects and see what is on the schedule for release while they are being created.

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Would You Like Popcorn With That? – Despicable Me 2

“Despicable Me 2” is even more fun than the original!

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“Despicable Me 2” was directed by, Chris Renaud (The Lorax) and, Pierre Coffin (Despicable Me). It stars the voice talents of, Steve Carrell (Gru), Kristen Wiig (Lucy) and, Benjamin Bratt (Eduardo/El Macho). It has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes and is rated PG for rude humor and mild action.

“Despicable me 2” invites back the lovable villain, Gru (Carrell) and his three adopted girls for a very welcomed story about the power of being good. Someone has stolen a top secret chemical and plans to use it to create and unleash a terrible army of mutants. The “Anti Villain League” realizes the best way to catch a villain is to hire one of the best bad guys that the world has ever seen. Agent, Lucy (Wiig) is sent to convince, Gru to help them get the chemical back before a new super-villain is born and terrorizes the world with their unstoppable army of genetically enhanced super mutants.

I have to say that when it comes to sequels, there are not too many out there that can stand up to their freshmen predecessors. Often times they tend to stain the memories that the original films work so hard to create. “Despicable Me 2” was BETTER than the original. Yup. I said it. Every aspect of the first film was grasped and intensified for the sequel. The Minions are funnier. The backgrounds are deeper. The jokes are funnier and characters are even more over the top. If there is something that you liked from the first movie, you will love it in this one.

One of the things that I love about this movie is the design. Every possession of, Gru is very retrospective of the industrial revolution. His BBQ grill is pieced together sheets of riveted steel, for instance. His car looks like a chrome test-aircraft (also with riveted seems). The main villain in the movie has a series of booby traps and secret doors that lead to his lair. they are riddled with carved Aztec sculptures and enough danger that would even make, Indiana Jones think twice before shoplifting the chemical from, El Macho (Bratt). There are too many things to list, but pay attention to the little details in the background when you see this movie. It really adds a realistic dimension to the characterization of the key players in the movie.

“Despicable Me 2” is just plain fun. The humor is so fast that you will most likely miss a few jokes. I think that the Minions are hilarious. I strongly believe that they could have a movie of their own and it would be a huge success. There are so many of them on the screen at any given time and each of them is doing something awesome worth looking at. I have felt so generous with my ratings this summer, but the movies keep getting better.

Go see this one in 3D. The depth is amazing. Make sure you stick around during the credits. The Minions are crazy and so lifelike as they blow bubbles out into the crowd and fall out of the screen while they wrestle each other. My daughter (and every other kid in the theater) were out of their seats trying to catch them while laughing and having a great time. Trust me, you will like this movie just as much as your kids do.

Despicable Me 2 merits 5 out of 5 on the ol’ popcorn scale.

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Would You Like Popcorn With That? – The Heat

“The Heat” will will your swear jar with laughs.

 “The Heat” was directed by, Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and stars, Sandra Bullock (Sarah Ashburn) and, Melissa McCarthy (Shannon Mullins). It has a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes and is rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence.

“The Heat” is a foul-mouthed, non-stop buddy cop movie that brings together federal agent, Ashburn (Bullock) and local law officer, Mullins (McCarthy). Ashburn is very classic in her methodology when it comes to every aspect of her life. McCarthy is very rough around the edges and extremely coarse. Things get a little wacky when these two are forced to work together to bring down Boston’s premier drug lord.

This movie is demonstrative of typecasting as its absolute best. Over the past twenty years or so, we have come to love, Sandra Bullock for being a nerdy, charming and proper character actress. She has won us over time and time again with her doe-eyed glances and smirk-laden grins. Her portrayal of, Ashburn in this movie is no stretch and frankly, I can not imagine the role going to anyone else. The part of, Mullins was blatantly written for, McCarthy. This character is so colorful that she is obviously the only one that could turn such an abrasive, rude character into a loveable role. Both ladies did an incredible job and seemed to play well off of one another. They even learn a thing or two about life from each other in the process. I just hope, McCarthy doesn’t fall into a rut by playing the same type of character her entire career, but, man is she ever good at it.

There are a lot of excellent cameo appearances “The Heat”. Jane Curtain, Michael McDonald, Bill Burr, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport and, Thomas F. Wilson who plays an angry albino DEA agent. The movie has a lot of excellent character interactions. The cop/criminal banter between the heroes and the evil-doers are hilarious. There is an entire scene where, Mullins flips her lid and humiliates a man for trying to solicit relations from a lady of the night. By the end of her outrageous badgering, he sees the light and begs for forgiveness. After a little warming up, Ashburn ditches the proper exterior and begins to handle things, Mullins’ way. The minute that these two start bonding, nobody is safe from justice, swear words and personal injury.

This type of movie is nothing that you have not seen before, but it is one of the only ones that I can think of which have female protagonists. Movies with prominent female roles have been getting more and more popular recently. “The Heat” is definitely the next necessary step in this direction and I, for one am happy to see something fresh every now and then. Paul Feig proved himself when he gave us “Bridesmaids” a couple of years ago and it seems like he is headed in the right direction with his film choices.

I am not so sure that “The Heat” would be as hilarious without all of the cursing (and probably only 27 minutes in length). It would be a completely different story, and, McCarthy definitely carried this movie with her patented ramblings. Not many things offend me, and this movie certainly did not either. I am very thick-skinned when it comes to sensitivity, but I can definitely see how this movie will not be for everyone. I would actually have to urge you to see this movie because of the over-use of bad language and offensive scenarios. These things are the backbone of “The Heat”. It is absolutely not a movie you want to take the little ones to see unless you have the urge to expand their vocabulary and a handy supply of bar soap at home.

I give “The Heat” 4 out of 5 popped kernels.

Popcorn Rating 4 out of 5

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Would You Like Popcorn With That? – World War Z

 

 

“World War Z” is an intelligent take on the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

WORLD-WAR-Z-Poster “World War Z” was directed by, Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace and Monster’s Ball). It stars, Brad Pitt (Gerry Lane), Mireille Enos (Karin Lane), Daniella Kertesz (Segen) and, James Badge Dale (Captain Speke). It has a runtime of 116 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images.

This movie goes from zero to widespread panic about two minutes after the opening title sequence. Marc Forster wastes no time before he delivers some hard-hitting action. You will see every major city in the world almost simultaneously become overrun by zombie outbreaks. Gerry (Pitt) is an ex-UN employee that is called out of retirement to help save the world from imminent doom. He is given a team of elite soldiers, a reputable biologist and his own personal airplane. His mission is to track down patient zero in hopes of finding a cure to prevent the extinction of the human race.

“World War Z” is a very fast-paced movie about the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Ok, so it may not be an actual impending threat, but this movie takes such a realistic approach that it seems probable at times. One of the things that I was very impressed by was how I never found myself saying, “No, don’t do that.” Or “Not the high heels; what is she thinking?” Instead, I was fascinated at the level of intelligence that people were exuding in their situations. They show you that a good way to keep your family close to you when running from the undead would be to tether yourselves together with a length of rope. Want to keep the flesh biting to a minimum? Duct tape a magazine around your limbs like armor. Genius.

I cannot say that I am too surprised at how well the characters prepared themselves. The writer, Max Brooks also wrote a book called “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead”. It is a very good read if you are a doomsday prepper or have a fear of a zombie revolution. Some of the things that the book will teach you is how to choose a weapon based on its effectiveness in any given situation. You will also learn different ways to blend into your surroundings until the coast is clear. You can see a few of his teachings put to use in “World War Z”. Here’s a fun fact for you too, Max Brooks is the son of, Mel Brooks (yes, the “Spaceballs” and “Blazing Saddles” guy).

My solitary hang-up about this movie is the amplified use of that blasted “shaky” camera. I realize that it is supposed to make me feel like I am part of the action and sometimes it can help. For instance, in very small doses and when there is at least one thing in focus. “World War Z” relied on the use of the “shaky” camera in excess. This is the type of movie that I would expect to see this technique, but during the scenes that use it, the camera was out of focus and at no time could you make out what you were looking at which makes it very hard to follow. After the third time that this happened, I actually saw a lot of people in the theater removing their 3D glasses and rubbing their eyes. The guy beside me had even commented on the fact that it was making his stomach a little upset. It could be the combination of this and the 3D also. The 3D was also not as lifelike as I am used to seeing. It seemed more like a few layered flat images, much to the likeness of a Viewmaster. For these reasons, I am suggesting that you save the few extra bucks and just go see it in 2D. I am a big fan of 3D movies, so this was a tough call for me.

Overall, this is a great movie and a joy to see in the theater. It has everything that you would want in a summer blockbuster. There is an overload of action, great mystery, compulsory storyline, emotional attachment, over-the-top scenarios and, Brad Pitt to boot. Of all the disaster movies I have seen in the past few years, this is a close runner up to “This Is The End” (also in theaters now). There is a scene with the biologist on the airplane where he gives a great speech that is a beautiful depiction of Mother Nature. You will want to pay attention to that part.

I give “World War Z” 4 out of 5 popped kernels.

Popcorn Rating 4 out of 5

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